Kafé Balos, a roasted coffee product manufactured by locals - mostly indigenous B’laans – in majestic Mt. Matutum is going international.
The regional office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced Kafé Balos has been identified as one of only eight special products in the entire Philippines for promotion in the global market.
Of these eight commodities being developed for international branding by DOST in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency , two are unique products of South Cotabato: Kafe Balos and T’nalak, a colourful fabric hand-woven by T’boli women from dyed abaca fiber.
Kafé Balos, a coffee fermented by intestinal juices of civet cats, is known among coffee enthusiasts are one of the most coveted and expensive kind.
One shop in Davao City which offers this type of coffee charges P150 per cup. An 85-gram pack of whole-bean coffee retails at P900 while its ground version costs P1,000 per pack.
In the US, a cup of brewed civet coffee could cost as much as $50 -- that’s more than P2,000 per cup! Those who have tasted this coffee swear, it has a different aroma and more subdued and sweeter taste.
It is worth noting that this gourmet coffee is literally an excrement of an animal, the civet cat (Paradoxurus philippinensis), also known as alamid in Tagalog, milo in Cebuano, and singgarong in Ilonggo.
Production of the Kafé Balos begins with collection of civet cat poops by B’laan lumads in more than 500 hectares of coffee plantations inside Mt. Matutum Protected Lanscape that straddles the towns of Tupi and Polomolok.
Civet cats are reportedly adept in selecting choice cherries, which they eat for their pulp. After less than two days these coffee beans are defecated on the grounds as clumps, with whole beans intact.
Enzymes and acids inside the animals gastrointestinal track digest the bean’s covering but not the bean. Instead, it’s digestive secretion seep into the bean, thereby contributing to its flavour characteristics, different aroma and lack of the usual bitterness of regular brewed coffee.
Gathered civet cat poops are then washed, cleaned and dried. Once dried, these are roasted into right level of brittleness suitable for grinding and ready for brewing.
What is more notable in this endeavour is the fact that residents around the coffee plantation areas have also learned to protect the environment.They know that cutting the trees would definitely destroy the civet cats’ home and drive away their source of lucrative income.
Locals earn about ten times more from coffee beans collected from civet cat excrements compared to earnings from coffee beans harvested directly from coffee trees. A kilo of regular coffee bean sells at P70 to P90 a kilo while coffee that went through a civet cat’s stomach hauls as much as P900 a kilo.
DOST-12 Regional Director Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan said, the development of Kafé Balos for international branding is in line with the program of DOST’s Industrial Technology Development Institute and JICA to enhance the competitive identity of unique Philippine products.
“One of our major priorities this year is to enhance the competitiveness of unique Philippine products in the global market through attractive packaging design using appropriate packing technology,” she said in a press release.
With proper design and product development, they hope Kafe Balos will attract buyers from other countries.
She pointed out that although they are prioritizing Kafé Balos and T’nalak have specifically been identified for global promotion, DOST 12 is also focused on helping micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) develop other fresh and semi-processed products.
Besides assistance on label design and product packaging, MSME may also avail of product development consultancy, trainings, and analysis of microbial and nutritional contents among others.
Last year, DOST-12 assisted the development of 102 label designs for food and non-food products, benefiting at least 47 beneficiaries, Laidan reported.
She noted that they collaborated with the stakeholders from the academe, business, non-government organizations and other government agencies in pursuing different development initiatives across the region. (DEDoguiles/PIA 12)